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Online fraudster

Level 3 Advanced
1

Key words

Match these key words from the text with the definitions below.
1. a fraudster
2. a piece of kit
3. a spree
4. chip and pin
5. a party piece
6. a scam
a. A dishonest plan for getting money.
b. A kind of criminal who gets money from people by tricking them.
c. A short period of time in which you do something a lot, such as spending money or drinking.
d. A system for paying for something using a credit/debit card that has information stored on it using a microchip.
e. A tool used for a particular purpose.
f. A trick, song, or dance that you can perform at a party to entertain people.

What do you think?

Read the headline of the article. What do you think the article is about?

1. Online shopping sites are creating a new generation of criminals.


2. Despite tougher security, identity and credit card theft are at an all-time high.
3. Comic criminal describes ways to get rich quick.

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NEWS LESSONS / Online fraudster / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2007

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4. Giving personal details over the phone causes great risk to consumers, says report.

Online fraudster
Level 3 Advanced
Its easy money, says online fraudster
who stole 250,000
6

I used to go through different methods


depending on how confident I felt, he said. I
used to call people up and pretend to be from
a fraud department and just ask them for their
details. But sometimes its as easy as getting
information from a local video shop.

Now, 26, Tee admits that by the time he was


caught he was looking into the possibility of
getting bank loans and even mortgages using
stolen identities.

2 In his short career as a fraudster, Tee - who is


trying to rebuild his life after serving a long prison
sentence, and agreed to speak anonymously
- estimates that he stole as much as 250,000
through a mixture of harvested credit card
details, identity theft and bank account takeover.
Police officials last week said the volume of
online crime was so high that they could not
investigate every case, and that big criminals
were moving into the fast-growing field.

It was just a game to see how far you could go,


he said. My little party piece was that you get a
card in someones name and use it. Then, within
24 hours, you call the bank up and convince
them that youre the genuine person and that
you havent made those transactions - and they
refund it. Then you just go to the cash machine
and take it all out again. He even sent flowers to
one victim, using their stolen bank details to pay
for the bouquet as a callous gesture of thanks.

3 Bill Hughes, director general of the Serious and


Organized Crime Agency, told a House of Lords
investigation into Internet security: Everybody
has a laptop now, and its seen as just another
piece of kit, almost like a toaster or kettle. But its
not, and it can be used in another way.

People like Tee represent the smallest end of


what is now a multibillion pound criminal industry.
Statistics from Cifas, the UKs fraud prevention
service, show that identity theft was up almost
20% last year, while Internet and card fraud rose
to an all-time high of 414m in 2006.

4 For Tee, who served almost four years for


conspiracy to defraud, the chance to use
peoples ignorance against them was just too
easy. Although it sounds really flippant, it wasnt
even like a part-time job - because at least in
a job you have to work a few hours, he said.
Maybe it took an hour a night if I really felt like
it. But to me it felt like a bit of fun and a pastime
which developed into an easy way of making
money.

10 Martin Gill, a criminologist at the University


of Leicester, who has studied the actions and
motivations of fraudsters - Tee was one of
his interviewees - said the perceived ease of
fraud, particularly when using the Internet, was
encouraging to those who commit crime. One of
the things that comes through is the belief that
theyre not going to get caught, he said.

1 On the outside, Tee was a typical student. Living


away from home was proving expensive, and
he had racked up a sizable debt in a short time.
Like most of his peers, he had a computer and
a phone in his room - but instead of using them
to study, he turned them into the tools of a 21st
century criminal.

5 In spare moments around his university schedule


- he was studying law - the young Yorkshireman
would take card details lifted from insecure
websites or passed on from other criminals,
and embark on spending sprees that netted him
cars, clothes and cash. Sometimes scant details

11 Industry insiders say a large number of cases still


go unreported because conviction has proved
so difficult.
12 The common reaction among companies selling
goods is a real frustration at how hard it is to
prosecute and get convictions for people who
commit fraud, said Keith Marsden, managing

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NEWS LESSONS / Online fraudster / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2007

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Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent


May 3, 2007

such as a name and phone number could open


the door.

Online fraudster
Level 3 Advanced
director of 192.com, which sponsors Prove-ID, a
private industrial forum on dealing with fraud. Its
a hard process to go through.
13 Instead, companies are opting for tougher
security procedures and programmes to educate
the public about safe Internet use.
14 But experienced fraudsters like Tee say that it
is still too easy. Even chip and pin, which has
drastically cut physical fraud levels, can prove
beneficial to the seasoned criminal. I thought
chip and pin was brilliant - now cashiers think
theyve got no right to look at your card. If I
wanted to, I could pretend to be anyone, because
nobody will ever check. Its a new opportunity
for them.

15 How to avoid scams


Never give personal details over the phone.
Banks should never ask for pin numbers
or codes.
Only shop on secure websites that display
a padlock or key symbol in your browser. The
address should start https instead of http.
Only open email attachments if you are entirely
sure it is necessary.
Be wary of suspicious-looking email. Some
viruses use the name of somebody you trust as
a disguise.
Guardian News & Media 2007

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NEWS LESSONS / Online fraudster / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2007

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First published in The Guardian, 3/5/07

Online fraudster
Level 3 Advanced
3 Comprehension check
Choose the best answer according to the text.
1. Why did Tee become a criminal?
2. Was Tee ever caught?
3. What three methods did Tee use to get peoples personal information, according to the article?
4. According to criminologists, why do people commit online crime?
5. How are companies fighting online fraud?
6. Why does Tee think chip and pin is good for criminals?

4 Vocabulary 1: Words in context

1. (para 4) If someone is flippant they are being

a) serious.

b) not serious.

2. (para 5) If you net something you

a) catch it.

b) lose it.

3. (para 5) Scant details means

a) many details.

b) few details.

4. (para 8) Callous means

a) kind.

b) cruel

5. (para 13) To opt for something means to

a) choose it.

b) reject it

6. (para 15) If you are wary of something you

a) trust it.

b) dont trust it

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NEWS LESSONS / Online fraudster / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2007

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Read the article again and choose the best definition for each of these words.

Online fraudster
Level 3 Advanced
5 Vocabulary 2: Word formation
Complete the sentences with the correct form of the word in CAPITALS.

1. SIZE

Tee built up a ____________ debt while at University.

2. CONSPIRE Tee went to prison for ____________ to defraud.


3. SECURITY

Tee could find peoples details on ____________ websites.

4. INTERVIEW Martin Gill studied online crime and Tee was one of his ____________ .
5. BELIEVE

Criminals hold the ____________ that they will not be caught.

6. BENEFIT

Tee says that chip and pin methods are ____________ to criminals.

6 Vocabulary 3: Collocations
Make collocations with the words from A and the words from B.

to rack up

crimes

a fast-growing

criminals

a spending

debts

to commit

details

seasoned

field

to serve a

prison sentence

security

procedures

bank

spree

7 Discussion

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NEWS LESSONS / Online fraudster / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2007

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Do you feel secure when shopping or giving out your personal details online? What security precautions do you
take when using the Internet?

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